Are you suffering from depression or unsure if you are? Allow us to help you come to a better understanding of how to deal with depression.
With the shift in mental health awareness, words like depression get thrown around often, and there’s some misinformation out there. So, how does depression manifest, and how does it differ from sadness and grief?
Also, if you’re suffering from a depressive disorder, how can you cope with its symptoms? We’re going to guide you with some information and simple tips to follow.
Warning Signs of Depression
Before we get into what to do if you’re depressed, we’ll establish how to know if you’re depressed. Depression tends to make a person gaslight themselves into thinking they’re overreacting or faking their mental illness, so we want to push back with some signs you’re suffering from depression. If you have many of them, it’d be wise to get help.
- Uncontrollable Emotions: From lashing out angrily one minute to sobbing helplessly the next, these mood swings aren’t prompted by external circumstances but internal forces, which is a distinction between depression and sadness.
- Irritability: According to Mayo Clinic Staff, depression makes men irritable, leading them to take their anger out on others, harm themselves, and abuse substances.
- Appetite Changes: That can mean eating too little and losing weight or eating too much and gaining weight. Also, this counts as one of the clinical depression symptoms if the dietary changes are unintentional.
- Sleep Problems: When learning how to know if you have depression, you should recognize the correlation between insomnia or fatigue/excessive sleeping and depression.
- Loss of interest: This goes hand in hand with the lack of energy and fatigue, so you might not want to do activities that you used to enjoy, such as hobbies, socializing, sports, and sex.
- Anxiety: There’s no evidence to support that anxiety is what causes depression; however, they often coincide. And you might feel nervous and restless, have severe panic attacks, breath fast, or swear a lot.
- Excessive Guilt: If you’re asking: “What does depression feel like?”, part of the answer would be blaming yourself over what’s out of your control.
- Memory Problems: If you’re struggling to remember many memories, that could be linked to depression.
- Extremely Low Self-Esteem: A depressed person might feel worthless and obsess over their mistakes.
- Suicidal Tendencies: If you’re wondering: “how do I know if I’m depressed?”, Suicidal thoughts are a clear symptom of depression, sometimes exhibiting in intentional cutting and self-harm.
What to Do if You’re Depressed
Since depression is a mental disorder, its treatment relies heavily on focusing inward and shifting your mentality, but there are also some more practical tips that can help. And we’ll be sure to cover both grounds: inward and outward coping mechanisms.
Doing the inner work can be intimidating and challenging, but it’s possible. Just be gentle with yourself. Before you can proceed with the treatment of depression, you need to accept the headspace you’re in right now. And know that depression affects millions of people all around the world, so you aren’t alone.
Moreover, you might be tempted to suppress your emotions. Even worse, some people will tell you to avoid negative emotions altogether and ‘be positive’. This denial is a very unhealthy coping mechanism.
Instead, we encourage you to allow yourself to feel your emotions, both positive and negative. You can do that by journaling or writing. Then, you’ll find the intensity of the emotion subsiding gradually.
However, be careful not to dwell on your emotions because dwelling is just as dangerous as denial. Also, when you’ve overcome the feeling, write about that as well.
Although your negative feelings are valid, what they tell you about yourself or the world may not be accurate. For example, if you feel that nothing is going right for you, accept your dissatisfaction with your life and validate that feeling, but don’t believe what it’s telling you about your life going all wrong.
And the reason is that your thoughts can often cloud your judgment and twist your view of reality. Just remind yourself that your thoughts are a reflection of your feelings, not your reality. Accordingly, it’s necessary to challenge your negative thoughts and question their validity constantly.
Now, we’re shifting our focus from inward to outward and discussing some helpful tips to follow if you’re feeling depressed.
Firstly, you need to connect to others. Your depression might make you more inclined to withdraw from everyone, but this might have adverse effects on your mental health. So, stay connected, even if you’re only talking to a few people. Sometimes, a small circle of emotionally supportive people is all you need to ease your symptoms temporarily.
Also, talking to people can help take your mind off your worries and get you to focus on something else.
Secondly, set realistic goals. You don’t want to set unattainable goals, feel overwhelmed, fail to reach your goals, and end up feeling guilty. Instead, decide on one or two goals. And your goals need to be:
- Within your control, so you don’t have to rely on others
- Realistic when compared to your capabilities at this moment, not other people’s
- Quantifiable, so you’ll be able to tell when you’re done
To exemplify, these achievable tasks can be taking the trash out or making the bed. If you can’t accomplish them, challenge the self-deprecating thoughts by asking yourself what you can learn from the experience. Of course, if you do the tasks, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment that can lift your mood.
Thirdly, since we’ve just talked about setting goals, you need to reward yourself. After all, reward systems can do wonders. All your successes deserve celebration, whether that’s getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, or finishing your assignment.
When you force yourself to recognize your little and big victories, you gather more evidence to counter your negative self-talk.
Fourthly, schedule fun activities, even if you don’t feel like having fun. Consider what you used to enjoy, and dedicate 30 minutes every day to it.
To illustrate, that can be a nice cup of tea, reading, meditation, painting, biking, spending time in nature, or any healthy hobby you have. Although these activities might feel forced at first, they can eventually improve your mood a bit.
Speaking of bonding with nature, research shows that nature can improve an individual’s mental health. Also, getting some sunlight increases serotonin levels, thus lifting your mood.
Fifthly, prioritizing your physical health is crucial. We aren’t saying that the causes of depression are a poor diet and no exercise, but what we’re saying is that your physical and mental health are intertwined. So, try to steer away from caffeine, soda, coffee, and alcohol. Instead, eat grains, vegetables, and lean meat.
As for exercise, take this at your own pace because we know that it might be overwhelming. Just know that exercise can help ease depression symptoms and avoid you falling into a depressive episode. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout; even a 5-minute walk around the block or a few yoga poses can be a great place to start.
Undoubtedly, we can’t talk about physical health without talking about sleep. Getting enough sleep at night and not oversleeping can be helpful. So, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time daily if you want a more balanced day.
Sixthly, perhaps your low self-esteem makes it hard for you to do nice things for yourself. And it might be a bit easier to do a favor for other people. So, find meaning in helping others by volunteering, as that can make your mental health better.
Seventhly, we saved this for last despite it being the most essential point: talking to a professional; a licensed therapist can consider your symptoms, diagnose you properly, and devise a depression treatment plan to help you, including therapy, medication, or other methods.
All in all, when you’re dealing with depression, you have to do some inner work and also push yourself to do actual tasks. But what’s common among most of our tips is that your depression might try to talk you out of them. So, please don’t give in, and take it one step at a time. We promise you that you can feel better and that asking for help is always an option.